Make Savvy Choices this Holiday Season
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Vitamins & Minerals
By Kimberly Beauchamp, ND
If being regular just isn’t your thing, adding some “good bugs” to your gut could do the trick. A study in theNutrition Journal found that seniors suffering from constipation got some relief by supplementing with probiotics. These friendly bugs also helped shift the balance to a healthier intestinal environment, a factor that might help prevent colon cancer.
Bug your digestive tract
Probiotic supplements containing one or more strains of beneficial bacteria help maintain the normal balance of bacteria in the intestines by reducing the number of harmful bacteria and by modulating inflammatory and immune responses. They are frequently used to help prevent and treat different types of diarrhea (from antibiotics and intestinal infections), and they may help control Crohn’s disease, as well as boost overall immunity and help prevent colon cancer.
The new study investigated the use of a probiotic combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Pediococcus pentosaceus, and Bifidobacterium longum in 19 nursing home residents with chronic constipation. The people were instructed to take the supplement (containing 300 billion colony-forming units) two times per day for two weeks.
Before and after the study, the people filled out questionnaires indicating how often they had bowel movements and the amount of stool that they passed. Stool samples were tested before and after the study for the presence of probiotic bacteria and for levels of harmful enzymes, and probiotic levels were found to increase significantly after treatment. People reported improvements in the frequency of bowel movements and the amount of stool passed.
Of the four harmful enzymes tested, the levels of two decreased significantly over the study period. “Probiotics may be beneficial in preventing colon cancer because of their inhibitory effects on harmful enzymes in the intestines,” the authors commented. No side effects were reported during the study.
(Nutr J 2010;doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-5)
Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. She cofounded South County Naturopaths in Wakefield, RI, and now sees patients in East Greenwich and Wakefield. Inspired by her passion for healthful eating and her own young daughters, Dr. Beauchamp is currently writing a book about optimizing children’s health through better nutrition.
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